Farmers in Nwoya District have tasked the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to expedite the installation of electric fences along the Murchison Falls National Park boundary bordering community land.
The call follows a surge in elephant invasion in the sub-counties of Koch Goma and Koch Lii where hundreds of acres of crops, mainly maize, soya beans, and beans, have been destroyed recently.
Although UWA embarked on the installation of low-voltage electric fences around the National Park in 2020 to deter mostly elephants from accessing community land, only a few sections have been fenced to date.
UWA had planned to erect electric fences on the national park’s border with the sub-counties of Purongo, Got Apwoyo, Anaka, Koch Goma, and Koch Lii, all in Nwoya District.
Morris Okello, a farmer in Gony-cogo village in Lii Parish, Koch Lii Sub-county, says that more than 40 herds of elephants that strayed from the National Park are currently roaming within their villages.
Okello says the elephants have so far eaten four acres of his soya beans out of 16 acres, adding that he is spending sleepless nights daily chasing away the stray wildlife. He notes that the persistent crop destruction by elephants is crippling their financial progress and food security.
Okello, however, tasked the government through UWA to fast-track the installation of the electric fence to save farmers, citing other areas in the neighbouring Oyam district where fences have been installed that have become hospitable.
Okeny George Anywar, another farmer also in Gony-cogo Village, is counting heavy losses after the stray elephants destroyed four acres of groundnuts he planted in his garden.
He said the locals have now exhausted all avenues to deter and drive away the elephants with minimal success, arguing that the only way to permanently stop the elephants’ destruction is by installing electric fences.
According to Okeny, the community members are willing to offer labour for UWA to speed up the construction of the electric fence in their area.
Koch Goma Sub-County Chairperson Francis Ojok says the problems are not any different in his area. He says hundreds of farmers are currently spending their nights in the gardens to protect their crops from being eaten by marauding elephants and notes that the delay in erecting the electric fence is greatly affecting their productivity.
Christopher Omara, the Nwoya Resident District Commissioner, acknowledges receiving concerns about elephant invasion in Koch Goma and Koch Lii, saying that the government is doing all it takes for the fences to be installed. He, however, asked UWA to fast-track the process to enable the community to peacefully engage in agriculture.
Bashir Hangi, the UWA Communications Manager, didn’t comment on the matter, saying he was busy.
In an earlier interview with URN, Hangi noted that the installation of the fences is expensive, adding that for every kilometre, the authorities spend 50 million Shillings.
So far, UWA has completed erecting an electric fence in sections of Kamdini Sub-county in Oyam District, Purongo, and parts of Got Apwoyo in Nwoya District.